Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Paddle away the blues

Sometimes being here at the house my parents built without them gets a little sad. Though it’s beautiful here it’s also filled with lots of memories.

Savoring the stillness.

Everywhere.

So the other evening, feeling a bit melancholy, I took a little paddle upstream. The evening was warm and still.

Mountains of clouds.

I spent a little time just sitting near the green trees, floating in the water, the clouds reflected all around me. It was just what I needed to fix my blues.

Green reflected in green.

Being a weekday it was quiet, all the weekend lake lovers had to go back to their jobs and city lives. But as I was paddling back to the house a big pontoon boat slid by me creating large waves that gently rocked my kayak. I waved at them. They waved back at me.

Rocking in warm waters.

Southern living. It’s a good thing.

The day’s clouds produced no rain for us. This time.

I headed home to wait for the evening’s sunset.

Perfect.

Pretty in pink.


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Lake dogs

Katie here. I thought I should share an observation I’ve made while living down here in Alabama at the lake.

Dogs around here don’t seem to be bothered by getting their feet wet!

Jet ski dog

Huh.

Why just yesterday I saw several dogs out on the water. I guess they are not all princesses like me.

Kayak dog

As close as I want to get to the water is along the lake shore or maybe on the dock. Yesterday I did run along the shore for awhile, cause my mama and her sister and brother were swimming and I wanted to keep an eye on them.

Paddle board dog

And while they were swimming I barked and chased the waves that dared to splash on my rocks, then I ran to the neighbor’s boat ramp and barked some more; I even got my feet wet there!! Accidentally of course…that one stupid wave was bigger than I thought.

Pontoon boat dog. I think this might work best for a princess like me.

Anyway, yesterday was Saturday and lots of dogs were out on the lake with their people. I guess they were enjoying the water. So I figured I should maybe give it a try. So I asked and my people said I could come along on a boat ride they were planning.

This is the way to travel!

You may remember that I’ve been in a boat over at my Uncle’s place two times before. But that was back when it was a lot cooler outside, and not on a weekend when there were hundreds of thousands of boats out there making waves!

It was a beautiful day so I guess I can’t blame all those boats for being out there.

OK. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit. There were probably only a couple hundred boats out there, and it’s a big lake. Still…it was really bumpy.

I can look adorable even in a bumpy boat!

I was pretty much OK. Sometimes I sat up near the front between my dad and Uncle. A bunch of the time I sat next to my mom or my Aunt. But it was really windy back there.

This is not a good look mama!

If I felt nervous I’d just lean up against mama or my Aunt’s knee and they’d pet me, and then I felt pretty safe.

Sometimes a hand is all a doggie needs to feel a lot safer.

It was nice to be out there…

The fire tower has a flag on it now!

…but as soon as we pulled back into my part of the lake I knew I was almost home and I went to stand up near my Uncle and dad…

A little to the port side Captain!

…to help guide the boat back into the boat lift you know.

I’m pretty sure they were glad they had me along, but to be honest, I was happy to be back with all four of my paws dry and firmly on the ground.

I’m not sure exactly what all those other dogs see in the spray and the waves and the wet! But I guess I’m happiest when I’m next to my people. And if that means I’m in a boat, well, that’s just fine with me.

Signing off for now, First Mate Katie-girl. Boat dog extraordinaire.

Me and my mama chilling out on the boat.


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Living on the lake – summer storm

Once upon a time (this afternoon) Katie and I were sitting on the back porch just watching the lake. Not reading a book, not napping, not looking at a phone or a computer screen.

Just watching the lake

It was a beautiful sunny day when suddenly…

A cool thing about being on a lake is that it’s always changing. From moment to moment the light changes, the wind ruffles the surface, a fish jumps, a bird swoops, clouds gather, thunder threatens.

Wait a minute. Thunder threatens? Why yes, almost every afternoon in this magical place a thunderstorm pops up.

…it turned into a dark and stormy afternoon!

Today we heard it way off to the north, but getting closer. And across the way dark clouds gathering high above a house.

I left Katie on the porch and went down to the lake to get a better look. She was not happy to see me approaching danger. But she stayed up on the porch and worried.

I’ll wait up here mama, but I don’t like it.

It got darker and darker. The wind picked up from the northwest.

It’s blowing hard up here!

Waves developed and Katie just couldn’t stay on the porch any longer. She rushed down to the shore to bark at the bad waves! She was so fast that I couldn’t get a clear shot of her.

Stand back mama! I’ll get these waves out of here!

She ran out onto the dock to bark even harder at those waves posing a threat to her mama.

These waves haven’t heard the last from me!

And the winds slowed, and the waves leveled out and Katie was a happy girl.

Mission accomplished mama!

And then the rains came and we ran for the house. We watched the storm blow from the comfort of our living room and picture window. Katie continued to bark at all the thunder overhead.

I guess that storm wasn’t quite over, was it mama?!

And soon the storm blew away, and the sky began to lighten.

Just a summer shower now.

And the sun came out and made the world bright again.

Dripping sunlight.

And Katie said…

You can count on me!

… “I told you I’d handle it mama.”

The end.

Wednesday’s storm.


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A day at the lake

One early morning duck enjoys the quiet.


After two and a half days of driving Katie and I were content to spend Sunday just watching the lake. There was so much going on in our little corner of the world.

I think the birds are used to having the yard and water to themselves and they went about their busy schedules as if we weren’t watching. We stayed still up by the house and just observed.

The swallow gourds out in the water had huge spiderwebs spun the night before and filled with fishflies. A male bluebird liked to sit up on top and survey his kingdom, and a female bluebird was busy taking fresh bugs into the top left gourd.

The morning sun lit up one of the bird apartments.

When the wind picked up, huge parts of the fly filled spider web fell into the water and fish leaped out of the water to grab the gourmet treat. It was quite a spectacle and one I wish I had captured. You’ll have to imagine it.

Later large blackbirds flew at the remaining webs, grabbing some of the stuck flies for themselves, in between being bombarded by the bluebird couple who apparently thought the bigger birds were attacking their nest. No pictures of that either.

After the bird epic slowed down I decided to kayak up the creek. At the end of our slough is a cyprus forest. It was a quiet paddle, still early morning.

Paddling toward my favorite trees.

I love these trees, and this morning the light was pretty, playing across the texture of their trunks.

The sun on the trunk made pretty patterns.

The water is high here, there has been so much rain, and I could have explored further up the creek. But I thought about snakes hiding up in the trees and turned around.

Kind of spooky back there.

It was good timing anyway, as I was pulling back into our dock the sound of boat engines and people laughing slipped up over the hills. The lake was waking up. I smiled and headed back inside to my girl who was napping happily in the air conditioning.

Time for fun in the sun.

Later in the day the clouds settled in, and the wind picked up. Quickly Katie and I gathered up lawn chairs and dragged the kayak into the boat garage.

Clouding up. But still beautiful!

And then the rains hit.

Rain slams across the lake.

And just as quickly the rain blew away and the evening settled down quietly as did Katie and I.

After the rain the lake settles into evening.

Just a typical day on the lake in Alabama. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Summer greens.


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The road leads to many barns

Poppies at one of many rest stops we visited today.


If you’ve been following us on Facebook you’ll know that Katie and I are headed South. Today we completed day 2 of our 3 day adventure. We spent last night in Indianapolis Indiana, and tonight we’re in Huntsville Alabama. It’s supposed to be a 6 hour trip between the two but of course Katie and I stop at every rest stop along the way.

Plus we were driving through barn country.

This was probably pretty once.

Katie enjoys her rest stops and I enjoy my barns. What can I say except that she’s a very patient sheltie-girl. And I try not to get off course for very long or very often. In fact I only allowed myself to get off the freeway twice today when I saw lovely barns dotting the countryside. And I only traveled 3 or 4 miles out of the way each time.

I saw so many beautiful barns that were not in a spot easily found once I exited the freeway, but I always found something else that was (almost) as photogenic as what enticed me off course in the first place.

Saw this one from the freeway and actually found it after we got on the back roads.

It’s hot in the South right now. The car said it was 97 out there this afternoon. Katie, in her crate in the back seat, slept a lot and I tried to keep the car cool for her.

Cow rests in the shade.

But as the day wore on, and about two hours away from our hotel, I noticed the air conditioning was almost negligible. I’m sure she felt nothing cool in the back seat. She seemed lethargic and I began to panic. I rolled the windows down and hoped that the breeze made up for the lack of cool. I began to talk to her loudly and often. I told her we were going to get her dinner soon. She perked up.

Jackpot! A whole bunch of barns in one shot!

I stopped for a minute to give her a long drink of water and feel her tummy. She didn’t feel too warm. Yet. I drove faster and skipped the last rest stop at the Alabama line. I figured we were only 30 minutes from an air conditioned room, and stopping would do nothing but heat us both up even more.

Barn on the back road.

So I sang to her, talked to her, and she watched me, thinking something good was coming. It was. Air conditioning! I even planned on filling the tub with cool water if I had to cool her down. Or looking for a vet if I thought she was in heat stroke.

Working the fields on this hot afternoon.

But she bounced out of the car when we got to the hotel and pulled me, prancing all the way, into the lobby. And then she wanted to play. And eat her supper. And drink a big long drink. And go outside for a walk. And play some more. And go back outside. And get a treat. Or two.

The colors in the barn go so nicely with the colors in the field.

So I guess all my worrying was for nothing.

But tomorrow we’ll be getting up early to drive the last 4 hours to the lake before the afternoon heats up. And next week we’ll be taking the car to a dealer to see what’s up with the air.

It’s always something.

Air conditioning is good mama!


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Saying goodbye to WordPress Photo Challenges

I’ve enjoyed doing the WordPress Photo Challenges over the years, but this week, with no explanation, they have decided to stop. The last photo challenge is to post your all time favorite photo.

Well that’s not going to happen. Even if I found the time to sort through thousands of images I’m fairly certain I don’t have an all time favorite.

Broken heart and tears.

So I’ll post an image I took yesterday. It represents my broken heart and feeling of loss.


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Truck Safety – the details

It’s a very busy place, Washington DC.


It all started when my dad was killed by a tired semi-truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel and didn’t see the traffic stopped ahead of him early in the morning of December 23, 2004.

Since them members of my family have been traveling to Washington DC regularly to tell our story and lobby for safety on our nation’s roads. This past week my husband and I were there again, talking to the staff of House Representatives and Senators, as well as people at the DOT, about the bigger, heavier, longer trucks that are once again being proposed by some in the trucking industry.

Riding the metro to the Hill on a beautiful day.

Back in 2015 double 33 foot trailers were proposed by the trucking industry, they say because of a driver shortage. What they didn’t say is that adding 5 feet on each of two trailers, hauled in tandem, made the entire truck 83 feet, 8 inches long. That’s similar to an 8 story building. Try passing that on a busy freeway.

We worked long hours and got back to the hotel after dark most nights.

They also don’t tell you that it will take longer to stop, that the back trailer doesn’t track correctly going around corners and that they’re harder to drive, requiring a special endorsement on a driver’s commercial license.

In one of the lady’s rooms, mid century modern makeup chairs.

There’s already a shortage of drivers, finding experienced drivers to haul double 33 foot trailers isn’t going to be easy.

Mountain sculpture in the Hart Senate Building lobby.

Aside from the safety issues, many companies ship their goods ‘intermodal’ meaning they move over land on rails as well as highways, and across the ocean on ships. The 33 foot trailers won’t fit on rail cars as they are configured now, and container ships may have to change the way the trailers are stacked as well. Some people fear that smaller transport companies will be forced out of business as shippers and brokers move to the more competitive larger trailers to ship their goods, regardless of the level of safety attributed to these trailers.

Waiting for a shuttle I thought the metro lines above were interesting.

There’s an appropriations bill in the House of Representatives right now. It’s the kind of bill that ‘must pass’ because it funds most of the Federally mandated programs across the country. Some members of Congress have added amendments to the bill that we consider anti truck safety. Allowing for a study of the double 33 foot trailers is one of these amendments.

It wasn’t all work. We ate dinner down on the wharf near an old torpedo factory that has been turned into an artist loft.

You might think that we shouldn’t be afraid of studying something, and normally I’d agree. But there isn’t much data out there on double 33s, they are running on some roads of certain states, but not many. We’re concerned that the trucking industry will fund studies of their own, and of course those will be favorable.

Right now the amendment is still in the appropriations bill. An amendment offered by another Representative to strip it from the bill failed by a few votes. So we have work to do.

We walked up and down a lot of stairs.

And this is just one issue. There are so many more that I want to tell you about. We worked all week on the Hill, talking about speed limiters, hours of service, underride crashes and the bill sitting in Congress right now, Stop Underride, that needs to move out of committee.

One afternoon we even got to take some time off and visit the national zoo!

We walked between appointments, from the House side to the Senate side of the Hill and back again, in the hot, humid air of summer in DC. It was hard. But getting the call about Dad was harder and I reminded myself how important this all is.

And yes we got lucky and saw the famous pandas.

I know truck safety is not everyone’s thing. And I know some of you will have differing opinions on how to solve the problem of truck crashes on our highways. I have so much more to tell you, and to show you, about our trip to DC last week. But this is already too long, too boring, and just a little stressful.

We had one peaceful evening on the Mall.

So I put a few photos in for relief — just in case you’d rather just look at cool stuff. I’m OK with that too.

Studying before an appointment.

I’ll tell you more about our work in another post. Stay tuned.

The flight home was thankfully incident free.


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Yellow flower photo shoot

It looks like yellow waves mama!


Katie here. I know, I know, you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Well I haven’t been doing anything exciting, that’s for sure. Mama has been busy with her camera and taking a lot of pictures that are not me. I don’t know why. Surely there is nothing as beautiful as me. Mama is fickle and I usually just ignore her.

But sometimes a princess has to speak up and I think it’s about time that I point out the lack of adventure around here. Totally unacceptable.

You’ve got a treat over there…right?

Mama did take me over to my park a couple of times this spring. She likes to do a photo shoot of me in the pretty yellow flowers. She says most people don’t like these flowers but she thinks I look beautiful sitting in the middle of a huge field of yellow.

Well of course I do mama. I look beautiful no matter where I’m sitting, and I thought all my loyal fans would like to see some of the photos featuring me instead of some anonymous birds.

The crab apples are almost ready to bloom too!

I know mama likes to take pictures of birds, but truly, don’t you think she should stick with me?

Anyway, we had fun over in the field filled with yellow flowers, and mama has promised me an adventure real soon. In fact she says I’m going on my adventure this afternoon.

It’s such a pretty day, let’s stay here for awhile!

Wait a minute.

I’m going on my adventure? Why isn’t she going on my adventure? I’m not sure I like the sounds of this at all. If you get a phone call from a payphone it’s probably me. I’m counting on you to come save me!

You’ll come save me….I’m just sure of it!

After all, a Princess knows she can depend on her loyal subjects. Right!!??

I’m counting on you!